This year, Give the Gift of Time!
Choosing to make conscious choices for your money and life may have implications for many aspects of your life. Consider giving the gift of time this year. Create a mental space to listen to your thoughts. Decide how to spend the last ten days of your holiday season, using your goals to give you focus.
Visualize your “perfect” holiday. Maybe it includes parties with friends, spending time with family, or taking the time to express your gratitude. December is such a hectic time of year. Many people feel overwhelmed by obligations presented by school, work, family, and friends. Invest your time in activities that bring you the most value.
Choose which activities you will spend your time on and know that you may miss some parties or invites. Setting boundaries for a successful holiday helps you maintain your sanity, increase your sense of gratefulness and keep your “spirits bright!”
Take that one step further and give the gift of time with those closest to you this month. Listen to your spouse, best friend or family members and notice what is important to them. Investing time with people who are special in your life strengthens your bond with them, creating more meaningful relationships.
When shopping, purchase one item and plan an experience to accompany the gift – instead of buying multiple gifts for everyone. Purchasing a new sweater? Plan a date night to enjoy the new outfit. Have a friend who loves to cook? Wrap up a kitchen gadget and sign up for a cooking class together. Give a gift of time to complete the gift in a box! Many people find that spending time with others reaps greater benefits in the journey of life.
Share some of the activities that your family or circle of friends love to do — and make the holidays extra special every year.
Are you still living with an old story you tell yourself – or is it time to create new habits? Start today to intentionally listen, analyze and make changes in your vocabulary.
You may say, “I’m broke; I never seem to get ahead.” Maybe you can explore a new way of thinking and say, “I’m broke; I wonder why I always feel that way.” Take back your power to choose. Envision what you want to spend your money on and state how you might make some changes.
Without blaming yourself, you can create new habits by stating what is actually happening in your daily decisions. For example: “I’m broke because I chose not to save any money this week.”
This gives you the opportunity to be curious, be aware of current actions and think about other choices you’d prefer to make. Hmm…. “It’s interesting to see how and where I’m spending my money. I’d like to find ways to shift some of my dollars this week toward my dreams.”
So instead of repeating, “I’m broke”… Try these: “I am going to make positive choices with my money. I want to consciously choose where I want my income to go, instead of drifting with old habits and being unhappy at the end of the month.” For example, if you like having nice clothes and the trendiest shoes, but have no money in the bank and are ready to make a change – you can begin to choose a new way of talking to yourself.
Try this on for size: “I want nice clothes and I want money in the bank. I will choose to wait and buy the shoes when they go on sale and will put the difference in price in the bank.” Or maybe you decide, “I like nice clothes and I have trouble telling myself no, so I will put $25 in the bank each week before I go to the mall!” Now you are choosing to say “yes!”
Yes to change.
Yes to new possibilities
Yes to conscious choices! That’s a great way to be “stepping-out!”
Spend Money on Experiences, not Things!
Sounds hedonistic, but spending money on experiences over things may bring you a higher level of genuine joy and longer-lasting satisfaction in life. We all have a limited amount of money to spend and want to allocate our resources for maximum results. Earning more money brings happiness – but only up to a certain point. People need a place to live, a car and food on the table, but before you buy that next new “thing,” take a moment to determine if you would be more satisfied spending money on an experience with family or friends over a new iPhone.
A new gadget or piece of technology often causes us to swell with pride in a brief moment of that “Wow” factor when showing off the new purchase. Physical products often lose their value as they become a mundane piece of your life and let’s face it – there is always something newer, better, or that has more options.
The concept of spending money on experiences over material purchases has been studied in-depth by Cornell psychology professor Thomas Gilovich. For over a decade, he has been trying to understand how and why experiential purchases are so much better than material products. Using the simple concept of conscious choice, you can create a life that is rich in its abundance by sharing experiences and connecting with the people you love.
In fact, if you have ever been at a party where you are meeting new people, it is easy to connect with someone when you realize that both of you ran the same marathon, hiked the same trail in a national park or vacationed in the same city. It doesn’t matter if they spent $10,000 and you spent $900. Both trips were equally as exciting! The shared experience bonds you as you both compare notes, relive your trip, and refresh the memories.
Summer is quickly passing, and if you have not taken the time to refresh yourself, there are still some great experiences waiting for you! Take a pass on a new car and use the one you have. Journey to a fabulous week with family or friends and make memories that will last a lifetime! Here is a great website to help you purchase an experience before the leaves begin to turn: http://www.lastminutetravel.com/PagePackageSearch.aspx
Remember to take time to stop and smell the roses!
Everyone deserves an escape from work now and then and you don’t need to break your piggy bank. Make the most of your vacation dollars by planning ahead, and using money-savvy travel hacks to create an oasis of fun and relaxation!
You know you need a break and want to find the best spot. Here are a couple of tips for you to find the best solutions for both traveling and sticking to your budget.
- Book fixed-cost trips: Explore and select trips that fit the exact dollar amount in your budget. No extra fees & no surprises. Another method for destination selection is to pick a theme. Base your trip on some of your favorite activities. Love wine? Tour a few vineyards or participate in a cooking class seminar. History buffs can find numerous forts and museums across the country while nature lovers have incredible opportunities to hike and bike, enjoying a personal experience in stunning landscapes.
- Plan Ahead: Find discount codes for your favorite destination and pre-purchase museum tickets, boat rides or city-saver coupon books ahead of time. You will be amazed at how much money you can save!
- Road Trips: Today, gasoline is still very reasonable and driving is a cost efficient mode of travel. Allow time for side trips and enjoy several stops along the way. Check out some of the most popular USA road trips HERE.
- Spectacular Landscape: Another fabulous way to see America: Visit nps.gov to find a national park within driving distance. For more road trip ideas, visit http://www.visittheusa.com.
- Lower Hotel Costs: Travel with friends and family and rent a condo or house. One option is to find smaller independently owned hotels that are not part of a chain. Many times you will get more personal service and spend less. Tired of slow elevators and too many people? Investigate AirBNB or Vacation Homes By Owner for spacious digs at half the price of hotels.
- Popular Destinations: Find the “hot-spot” and stay in the nearest town for bigger savings. For example, if you are going to Niagara Falls, stay outside of Buffalo, New York – it’s only a 20-minute drive across the border.
- Flying: Be sure to check flight rates often, use the online travel services that compare prices and send you alerts; farecompare.com, farecast.com, yapta.com, travelocity.com.
Vacations are great stress relievers and bring a sense of renewal to the fast pace of everyday life. Reward yourself! Be proactive and reap the benefits of your hard work without going into debt. Be sure to follow @themoneynerve on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more travel hacks.
Have a great vacation this summer — You deserve it!
What are you waiting for? It’s Time to Spring Clean your Finances! For most people, the idea of climbing Mount Everest is scary. The thought of walking along a narrow trail with a three-thousand-foot cliff at its edge may leave you frozen in your tracks. In a similar scenario, some people are terrified of facing their budgets, their level of spending and how they will live once they have retired.
Most people spend their lives confronting financial fear by ignoring it.
Join me for a quick and easy “Spring Cleaning your Finances challenge! For the next two weeks, I will be sharing easy tips for you to clean out what you don’t need and give you some tools to make the most of the income you have! Clear out the dust, drop that debt and take advantage of #TheMoneyNerve tips to “Spring Clean Your Finances!”
Please like and share the Money Nerve posts and feel free to share some of your favorite tips for saving money. Tag @themoneynerve and use the hashtags #SpringClean #TheMoneyNerve when sharing or posting. On Monday, May 2, one winner will be randomly selected from these social media posts to win a complimentary 30-minute financial session with me via Skype.
Financial fear can make you stop in your tracks. Not taking a look at your account balances, not making any decisions, ignoring your family, and not knowing when to take good advice are a few examples of how people start to freeze up. Now that tax time has ended, it is the perfect opportunity to review, refine and move forward financially. It is smart to re-organize your life: the house, the garage, the medicine cabinet, and your finances on an annual basis. Fine-tuning your goals will help to make the next year easier and more prosperous!
Re-evaluating what is most important can be life changing. Studies have proven that effective goal setting can bring about significant change in a person’s thought actions and lifestyle.
Sometimes people procrastinate because the task seems to big to handle. Some folks concentrate on tiny meaningless decisions that don’t make an impact on critical choices. Some people think there just isn’t enough time, but in creating a slight mental shift, time and desire can redirect your time, efforts and concentration to become more productive in your choices.
One of the benefits you may have as you make progress in one or two areas — you may find that your renewed focus and energy manifest positive changes in other aspects of your life as well. Setting goals is an excellent way to discover your true internal beliefs and take actions that are true to the “real” you. You can learn to create balance and success in both your personal and professional live.
While it may feel overwhelming, stating intentions and setting goals can be broken down into a few easy steps.
- Step 1: Write down all of your goals for the next 2-5 years. Rank them by what you desire most and then make a side note determining if the goals are easy or difficult. Breaking the bigger, more challenging goals into smaller “chapters” gives you the ability to work out a solution over time.
- Step 2: Realize you can’t make massive changes in every area of your life at the same time. Pick three main goals to begin with and stay focused on those first.
- Step 3: Write down your goals and start a journal to review your thoughts, write yourself notes or log inspirational quotes or ideas to keep you going. You may find the goal evolves with time, producing better results.
- Step 4: Reward yourself for success. Many “pint-sized” steps can culminate in achieving substantial results. Take time to recognize small victories and “treat” yourself with a little reward.
Life is a series of snapshots and moments that create the wholeness and beauty of our lives – rejoice in it!
Ask yourself where you would like to be in one year or five years. Would you like to be free of credit card debt? Would you like to have traveled the world? Would you like to have put away money in a retirement account? Would you like to change your spending habits? Would you like to see 50,000 dollars in savings?
Once you know where you would like to be, state your goal. A year from now, I’d like to stop using credit cards. In five years, I’d like to be credit card debt free. A year from now, I want to go to school for additional training. In five years, I’d like to be in another career or own my own company.
Quiet the censor in your mind and just let your imagination travel where it likes. After allowing yourself this quiet time every day, you may be surprised to see where your imagination takes you! Take advantage of planning ahead then every three months or so, sit down and adjust your budget. You can still get to where you want to go, you are just allowing yourself to keep it real and tweak the plan, as needed.
Finances will always be a part of your life—not something you can ever move past. Confront your financial fears and set aside an hour per week to update your records. If you use computer software, download your bank statement and expenses. Balance your checkbook. Keeping up with your money each week for a small amount of time will help you stay on track for your bigger goals.
Make an effort to spend responsibly. Make a list of all bills you get each month, and then check them off your list as you pay them. That way, if you didn’t receive a bill, you still realize it has to be paid. Spreadsheets are a great way to keep track of expenditures. Once a year, list your assets and debts to get a sense of your net worth. Now you have a true road map of where you have been and can move more efficiently toward your current financial destination!
Making a plan for a rainy day is always prudent. Some examples might be stashing some money in a savings account, looking toward your retirement or setting aside a three-month supply of food so that you are covered in case of an emergency. Just don’t go overboard, and sacrifice living to the fullest in your present life for an unforeseeable future.
I think of my friend’s grandmother finding an envelope labeled Hawaii trip in her husband’s safe deposit box after he died. They never left mainland soil in his lifetime. He had plenty of money in the envelope; they had the time; he just waited too long to take action. His financial fears kept both of them from sharing unique and fulfilling experiences together.
Have you shared your dreams, your goals or even your credit score with your partner? Maybe it is time to sit down and have a face-to-face conversation about what is important to both of you. Make the time to explore how to make those dreams happen. You want to know what triggers stress in each other and be aware of emotions can trigger extreme reactions.
As you become more aware of your emotions and what triggers your Money Nerve, you will be able to be more understanding of your partner’s Money Nerve. You want to have a conversation with the goal of improving financial communication and a better understanding of the person you love. You may still get annoyed and even upset by the reactions of others— but know you have each other’s back to deal with your situation.
Many times, sharing your financial journey and goals with others can help keep you on track. Keeping a budget together with a common focus becomes fun with a partner because you can “team up” with one another to track receipts, and build a stronger portfolio. When you join forces, you can now plan on how and where to spend your cash, set goals for fulfilling each other’s dreams and laying the groundwork for a better future.
You are scrambling to get your last minute shopping done, or you may have received some gift cards and now you are in a mad dash to get it all done. The stores are offering huge discounts and it is easy to blow your budget! Remember to bring your friends, “a budget and a list.” Having a clear sense of what you want to purchase and sticking to your plan will keep you on track. Finding the perfect present for family and friends shouldn’t cause you emotional and financial pain in January.
Plan your purchases ahead of time and you will save yourself from extra bills and hidden costs. Prioritize your list and set an amount for each person. Be honest with yourself. What do you REALLY want or need to buy? What are you REALLY going to spend? Invest time to find coupons, comparison shop online and maybe add an app like Red Laser to your phone. You can then “price match” items in your hand by comparing prices at other retails outlets & most retailers will match the lowest price.
Bring a calculator and add up your items before you get to the cash register. You may be shocked at the total and can swap out a few items or select what is most important BEFORE you are standing at the register with a credit card in hand. Another trick is to take cash. When you hand over the money you took out of your wallet, there is a much more tangible feel to the purchase. Zipping the credit card along the side of the machine is like pushing a button on a slot machine; so quick and simple – no pain at all – until later, when you have no money left and have incurred some major debt.
Just because an item is on sale doesn’t mean it is the best value. Spending $3,000 on a new TV because it was such a deal doesn’t save you money. One way to take advantage of sales is to buy ahead for next year when everything is half-price. Buying disposable items out of season at half-price, knowing you will be wrapping presents next year makes great sense.
Remember to keep it simple and not get carried away with extravagant expectations. Keep it real and the true Christmas spirit will shine through.
Have an abundant week!
Changing your “mental map” or mindset can create wealth in your life.
Living an abundant life is a proactive attitude to seek out what is important to you and strive to create a purposeful life. There is more to life than sitting at the computer every day and then sitting on the couch passively watching other people’s lives. You shape your world by how you choose to take action on the circumstances thrown your way. Decide if you want to allow others’ actions to ignite your anger or feelings – or if you would like to make intentional choices for a more positive outcome.
Give to others with a generous spirit: When you give time or money to others, you are implying that goodness is there for all. The positive energy from an intentional gift “without strings” will open your heart and mind to the abundance of your life. Intentionally put $2 in your pocket to have on hand to help others, or use the next few weeks to “pay it forward” for someone else, just because you can.
Find the goodness in people and enjoy the richness of life. With all the tragedy we have witnessed in the past few months, it seems like covering our ears, bolting our doors and making our world smaller is the best course of action – but that action could be counter-intuitive. Look for the goodness in others, have empathy for those in need, and find a way to forgive those around you for past hurts. Forgiving is another way to pay it forward.
As we move into the holidays, find time to share your vision of happiness, peace and thankfulness. More money and material possessions will not make you happy. Peace and happiness come from within. When you share your peace and love with others, you add worth to others, honor their spirit and that action makes the world a better place for all.
Have a great week